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Image of Kambhavati Ragini of Malkos

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Kambhavati Ragini of Malkos

Shaikhs Husain, Ali and Hatim, Indian, b. 16th century
Shaikh Husain, Indian, b. 16th century
Shaikh Hatim, Indian, b. 16th century
Shaikh 'Ali, Indian, b. 16th century

Creation date: 1591
Creation place: India

Other Information

Type: Watercolor Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
Accession Number: 1990.664
State/Province: Rajasthan
Dimensions: 8 3/16 in. x 4 3/8 in. (20.8 cm x 11.11 cm)


James Ivory, New York, New York ( - )

Greater India Company, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts ( - January 24, 1978)

Edwin Binney 3rd, San Diego, California (Janaury 24, 1978 - August 27, 1990)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (August 27, 1990 - )

Label Copy

Myths, Monsters and Maharajas (Ellen Smart, 1992)

Khambhavati is a ragini of Malkos raga. She makes an offering of flowers to Brahma, who stirs the Vedic fire. He holds a manuscript in one of his hands. One verse to be sung to this ragini is:

Khambhavati is the giver of pleasure and knows all the secrets of passion. Her body is bedecked with a halo of beauty. She is fond of songs, her voice is like that of a nightengale, she is sweet with her words.
The set to which this painting belongs is extremely unusual because it is inscribed with a colophon. The colophon itself is singularly rare in that it explains one mechanism of the interrelationship between Mughal and Rajasthani painting:

He is God - - - - - may He be exalted! The book of Ragamala was ready on the day of Wednesday at the time of the midday prayer in the place Chunar, the work of the pupils of Mir Sayyid 'Ali Nadir ul Mulk Humayunshahi and Khwaja Abdus Samad Shirin Qalam, the slaves Shaikh Husain and Shaikh 'Ali and Shaikh Hatim, sons of Shaikh Phul Chishti, written on the date of the 29th of the month of Rabi al Akhir, year 999. Written by the slave Da'ud, son of Sayyid Jiv.
Without the inscription, this ragamala would be seen as a very early Bundi set, for all Bundi ragamalas follow the same iconography and all but four the same compositions. The inscription places the origin of the ragamala firmly at Chunar, a site on the Ganga forty kilometers from Varanasi, where the Shaikh Phul Chishti of the inscription lived and preached. The Bundi raja, one of Akbar's loyal Rajputs, maintained a palace at Varanasi. Mir Sayyid 'Ali and Abd us Samad were two of the Safavid artists who migrated to India with Humayun in the middle of the sixteenth century to establish the Mughal atelier. The three pupils of theirs who painted the Chunar Ragamala were sons of Shaikh Phul Chishti, which would explain why they had returned to Chunar from the Mughal court. Thus the Bundi raja commissioned a ragamala set from artists who were well-trained in the Mughal imperial tradition and their work was the prototype for all subsequent Bundi ragamalas.

October 2005
Domains of Wonder
A pious lady brings offerings to a fire sacrifice, the most ancient form of worship in the Hindu religion, here being performed with the four-headed god Brahma. In this page from an early Ragamala set, the sacred act and the god are brought within a domestic setting to evoke a sense of awe and paradox. The artists of this series were Muslims from the Mughal atelier who entered the service of the Rajput ruler of Bundi, and the title of this picture is written in Persian on the back.
Last Updated: 9/5/2017


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Myths, Monsters, Maharajas: Introducing the Binney Collection San Diego Museum of Art , 11/23/1991 - 1/26/1992

Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting San Diego Museum of Art , 10/22/2005 - 1/27/2008


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Brijinder Nath Goswamy and Dr. Caron Smith. Domains of Wonder: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2005
Page Number: 82, 83, Figure Number: 26

Ms. Marika Sardar and Ms Neeraja Poddar. Epic Tales from Ancient India San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2016
Page Number: 102, Figure Number: fig. 29


Inscription, Top center: Wife of (the raga) Malvakaushika (Malkauns)

Inscription, Top center: The Ragini Khambhavati.

Inscription, On reverse:

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